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Though being a lifeguard is a serious job and the training is hard work, it is well worth it, according to Kyra Liebig, manager at Memorial Park Pool and lifeguard for the last six years.
The 2017 Yankton High School graduate is now a junior at Northern State University studying elementary education and theater. Liebig said she loved school and hopes to teach for the Yankton School District someday.
Last week, she spoke to the Press & Dakotan about her experience being a lifeguard.
How did you become a lifeguard?
I’ve always loved swimming — I actually used to be on the swim team. I was always around the water and it seemed like a pretty good job to have. (The supervisors) really work well with our schedules. So if you’re in any activities in the high school, they work well with making sure that you are able to do both and get some hours in.
I would say (being a lifeguard) is harder than a lot a lot of people think, but it’s not the hardest thing in the world. We do have to take a written test and we have to take a training course where we learn multiple saves and CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) — things like that.
We also have to do online work in preparation for that course, and that’s 10-15 hours of online work, with a test at the end, as well. You have to pass that in order to take the actual training course and then you take the written test.
During the training course, they test us on how well we are learning the saves and on how well we can do them. Also, you have to be able to swim 300 meters in the pool without stopping to make sure you have good endurance and you have to be able to swim on your back using your arms to hold a 10-pound brick.
Why do you come back every year?
I love working outside — it’s nice to not be inside a stuffy office; I love all my co-workers; they are all really great people; and it’s nice (teach swimming to) the kids at the pool every day and see them learning and getting better at swimming.
Have you ever had to save somebody?
For the first three years, I didn’t have to save anybody; it doesn’t happen very often. But yes, my first save was over on the chair by the red slide. A lot of the kids don’t realize how deep it is over there; it’s actually five feet deep. Anyway, a lot of kids don’t realize that, and they go down the slide and they are there and realize they can’t touch and they just panic.
A kid went down that slide and realized that he wasn’t able to swim and couldn’t touch there. You can kind of see it in their eyes that they are struggling and they are not OK. So I jumped off my lifeguard stand and I put my tube under his arms and pulled him back to the wall.
Are there other things kids forget that can get them into trouble in a pool?
Running is probably the biggest problem. A lot of the kids don’t realize that, yes, the ground isn’t as wet, but you can still fall, and because it’s cement out there, you can scrape yourself up pretty bad. Also, if they are jumping in on top of people, they can land on somebody and hurt themselves or the other person. It’s mostly just simple things that kids don’t think about.
Is there anything else you want people to know about being a lifeguard?
If you are thinking about it, definitely go to the Summit Center and ask questions about becoming a lifeguard, because I would say it’s definitely worth it and it’s a great job to have.
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